2016-Feb-02, Tuesday

texxgadget: (Default)
Its been said that a printing press can be every bit as dangerous as a small army.
In fact, as the USSR was starting to break down, there was an uprising in Moscow that was aided by the 1 printing operation that the KGB was not watching.
This was a time when all graphic repro equipment in the USSR was registered & licensed by the KGB.

I believe I already commented about finally finding one of the graphic arts I can excel in.

Its a real HOOT to realize how printers terms have affected common language.

Printers type is stored in "type cases" which in turn slide into type cabinets like a drawer.
Before 1850, a given font was separated into 2 cases, with the capitals in one and the rest in the other.
The cases with the capitals were stored at the top of the cabinet because they were heavy and the rest towards the bottom, because it was not as difficult to lift it up and over to the bench.
With time, they became known as "Upper case" and "Lower case.

In 1851, in San Francisco, the "California Job Case" was born.
It was double the width of the old cases, and held the capitals & some symbols in the right 1/3 of the case.
The order of the lowercase was shuffled to speed typesetting. A California case speeds the job by about 30%.

Most people had to memorize it "by rote".
*I* have a jingle that works for most of the left 2/3 of the case.
Ligatures and "k" are in the top row.

"Just Be Careful Driving Elephants Into Small Ford Garages"

"Let Me Now Help Out Your Punctuation With commas"

" X Villains Usually Take (3 to the EM spaces) And Run"
Printers and people who took Jr High printshop stop in to visit at DCF and the roar with laughter when I rattle off the jingle.
While the jingle has been around a while, it apparently was rarely taught in schools.

There was a time when every Jr High & HS had a print shop.
If you got good grades in all your printshop classes, the local printers union would have a place for you in their apprenticeship program.
It was a vocational arts class that really worked and worked well.
With the move to digital publishing, the printing industry is a shadow of what it once was.
When printers visit, I make them hold their hands up and count their fingers.
It gets laughs. Platen type letter presses were notorious for shortening fingers.

Sometimes a print job is completed, but its know that the job will be run again soon.
Rather than send the type back to the cases, the type is left on a galley tray, tied together with string to keep it together for re running later.
Obviously that type we left on the galley tray for reuse is "tied up" and not available for use in another job.
Sometimes we need something, but its not available because it is "tied up". Similar? Yes?

What is a "font"?

The size of a font is measured in "points".
There are close to 72 points to the inch.

The style of character is known as a type face.
Examples of this are "Times Roman" or "Park Ave"

Together, these make up the name of the font, such as "Park 36pt"

All of the uppercase "a's" in that particular font are known as a "sort", and so on for each character in the font.
This means that a font has 26 upper case sorts in it, and 26 lowercase sorts and then there are all the symbols & ligatures.
When I was having difficulty typesetting at Dickens, because I ran out of lower case "r",
I was genuinely "out of sorts", hence the term.

While some believe minding ones P's & Q's is a printers term, it applies, but P's & q's really comes from "pints and quarts".

The founder of the printshop at Dickens was a newspaper pressman, Gordon Sullivan.
"Sully" got interested in the historical angle and started collecting old printing equipment when presses were being cut up for scrap.
Since then, hobby letterpress has taken off and these old presses are finally being saved.

The new problem is the antique dealers who dump the type in buckets and sell it by the pound for ammo reloading and sell the empty type cases as shadow boxes and the cabinets for linen storage.
Browsing Ebay can make you cry. I see these guys selling type by the pound, I sent them messages reminding them that the type is worth 20 times the scrap value if it remains sorted.

Sully started bring pieces of his collection to Dickens in 1978. He passed in 2006 and I never met him.
We keep a portrait of him in a place of honor in the printshop.

Photopolymer has really helped revive the letterpress craft.
Not everyone has room for several cabinets full of type cases.
With "poly" one can compose on computer, print to transparency, expose under UV and then wash out in the sink getting a photopolymer plate.
The plate is then glued down to a wood block of proper thickness and then locked into a chase and installed in the press.

The print shop has been a BAD influence on me, and they are laughing hysterically at my expense (REALLY).
Just before DCF this year, I bought a tabletop press, a 3x5 Kelsey.
Its perfect for small jobs like calling cards.

During fair I got a deal on another Kelsey, an 5x8, big enough for small greeting cards and slightly larger jobs than calling cards.
Up until this point, I was expecting to do everything in poly.
I MIGHT get a case or 2 of loose type but thats it.
Kelseys in 3x5 or 5x8 are fairly common, many of them forgotten in peoples basements.

Well... I got a deal on a Kelsey 6x10 kind of rare.
OK, its time to shop for a type cabinet and then start looking for loose type.

All 3 presses need cleaning and minor repair.
Of course Sharon, Don & Z! are peeing themselves with laughter.
I told Sharon that its all Sullys (her dad) fault.

In Dec, I passed on a 10x15 Kluge. That thing was just TOO big.

I need to hold off on collecting too much more, but I REALLY DO want to find a deal on a "proofing press".
I missed out on a Vandercook model "O" a while back.
Maybe next time.


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August 2017


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